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Wednesday 20 May 2020

Jan Sadeler I’s engraving, “Saint Zenon”, 1600, after Maarten de Vos

Jan Sadeler I (aka Johannes Sadeler; Johann Sadeler) (1550–1600)

“Saint Zenon” (aka “Heilige Zeno van Antiochië als kluizenaar”), 1595–1600, after a lost drawing by Maarten de Vos (aka Maarten de Vos; Maerten de Vos) (1532–1603), plate 5 in the series, “Oraculum Anachoreticum” (aka “Hermits”), published by Jan Sadeler and/or Raphael Sadeler I (1560/61–1628/32) in Venice with privilege from Rudolf II of Habsburg and Clemens VIII.

Engraving on fine laid paper trimmed along (or close to) the platemark.
Size: (sheet) 17.1 x 21.1 cm.
Inscribed on plate within the image borderline on lower edge: (left) “Cu[m] priuil Su[m]mi/ Pontific/ et Sacr Cæs. Maiest. excud.”; (right of centre) "Ioa[n] Sadeler”; (right) vos i[n]u”.
Lettered on plate below the image borderline: “ZENONIS membra …/ …// 5// … / …cibo.”
State i (of i) (TIB does not propose any additional states)

TIB 7001.411 (Isabelle de Ramaix 2001, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Johan Sadeler I”, vol. 70, Part 2 [Supplement], New York, Abaris Books, p. 279, cat. no. .411); Hollstein 1980. Vol. 21, no. 441; Hollstein vol. 44 (Maarten de Vos), no. 1055.

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“St Zeno praying besides a gesticulating youth in a wood with a small chapel in a clearing beyond”

See also the Rijksmuseum’s description of this print:

From what I have discovered in my research into the hermit saint portrayed here, the British Museum advises that hermit is Zeno of Verona (aka the Bishop of Verona) who lived around 300 to  371 or 380AD and is distinguished by forbidding “funeral masses being accompanied by attendees' loud groans and wailing” (see and  other achievements. For me, however, the attributes of this saint (viz. “fishing-related items such as a fish, fishing rod, or as a bishop holding a fishing rod, or with a fish hanging from his crozier”) are not to be seen in this engraving and the attribution seems thin.

My preference of historical choice for the portrayed hermit is Zeno the Hermit, of Antioch (aka “the Letter-Bearer of Cæsarea”—a title derived from his role as Emperor Valens’ [fl.364–378AD] postman). The reason for my preference is simple: when Zeno retired from being a simple and humble postman upon Emperor Valens’ death and retreated to the ascetic life of a hermit, he was fed bread on each alternate day by a friend, like the one shown here (see

Condition: near faultless and well-printed early impression, showing no sign of wear to the printing plate, trimmed along/close to the platemark. The sheet is lightly yellowed with age and has a closed tear near a flattened centre-fold.

I am selling this exceptionally beautiful engraving—note the exquisitely rendered bird, lizard and squirrel—showing what I believe to be the praying saint receiving a loaf of bread and wine from a friend pointing to what may be either his dwelling or a small chapel, for the total cost of AU$340 (currently US$230.12/EUR208.67/GBP176.08 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this simply glorious engraving executed with the most sensitive of touches, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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